International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) members could stage a global walkout at Qantas Airlines it has emerged, as a dispute over pay and conditions worsens.
Members of the union will meet in London early next week to discuss the next move, with Australian workers already preparing for industrial action.
Approximately 9,000 workers represented by the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) in Australia have threatened to walk out.
Tensions escalated this week when Qantas said it was training managers as potential “strike-breakers”.
ITF general secretary, David Cockroft, said: “Any such training would seriously call into question whether Qantas management are actually sincere about any future negotiations with their own personnel.
Australia’s Transport Workers’ Union described the training as “immoral and un-Australian,” and drew parallels with the Patrick’s waterfront dispute of 1998, when workers were trained for strikebreaking in the Middle East.
Picket lines, union protests at check-in counters and go-slow action by baggage handlers were among tactics reportedly being considered in response.
ITF president, Paddy Crumlin, added: “It is in the interests of the travelling public, shareholders, the workforce, and most importantly the community, for Qantas to sit down and establish a fair deal with its workforce under Australian workplace laws and processes.”
Qantas said both the pilots’ and engineers’ unions had ruled out taking industrial action over the Easter holidays this month.
“We want to work with all of our employees to reach new agreements and we remain committed to finding common ground with the unions,” said Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.
“The Transport Workers’ Union agreement does not expire until July 2011 and negotiations are expected to commence in May,” he added.